Beyond Petroleum

It’s ironic, if not a perverse lie, that BP’s ad campaign has promoted them with the tagline, “Beyond Petroleum,” for the last ten years. They wanted us to believe that had some kind of bigger, better vision; that they were perhaps the only oil company with a green, fossil-fuel-free plan for the future. We know now that ifthey are “beyond petroleum,” it’s only because their mission is for the money that’s made beyond the short-cuts and compromises that lead to worker safety and eco-catastrophe risk-taking. They did what they did because it was a gamble that had paid off in the past. But this time they rolled the dice and lost. At this moment we are all fully aware that everything about BP is of, for, and by petroleum. They are fully immersed in it while an entire world watches anxiously and helplessly while they foul the Gulf of Mexico with their gusher.

When Congress passes the next weak, rear-view-mirror law in an attempt to prevent this from happening again, I think they should also enjoin BP from ever using the “Beyond Petroleum” ad words again.

And then it should be adopted as America’s slogan. It’s time for all of us to get committed to a world Beyond Petroleum.

Unwittingly, BP has shown us the path by which we can rapidly find better energy solutions than petroleum. As soon as you realize that the most critical factors in energy cost-benefit analyses are not dollars, the equations solve differently right away. When you factor in ruined ecosystems below and global warming above, the bottom line says that we should do all we can to leave petroleum behind immediately.

The vanguard of America’s Beyond Petroleum movement must be in how we make new buildings. It’s the lowest fruit to pick, the easiest thing to do. Buildings are inert. They don’t travel down roads or fly through the air. Buildings should become the first fuel hogs to get off the habit.Using our short-sighted, monetary-only cost benefit calculations, we’ve allowed our buildings to act like high-powered, resource guzzling beasts. It’s time to reset our priorities, reconfigure our cost-benefit equations, and eliminate the fuel pipes from our homes. Our excuses for not solving this problem are getting lamer every day as we watch a desperate reach for diminishing oil reserves come out in uncontrolled torrents of ooze from a broken pipe.

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